One of the most striking things about the way the testing has been going has been the performance of Toyota. In the hands of both drivers the car has proved reliable as well as fast over long runs, the ideal triple crown, really.
You sense that this could be the year of the breakthrough for Toyota which is still looking for its first win in F1. Jarno Trulli certainly seemed to think that is the case, when I caught up with him this evening.
“We hope so, we are optimistic,” he said. “Only the race results will tell us the truth, but so far this is one of the best cars that Toyota has made so I’m confident that we can be right at the top.”
Trulli and team mate Timo Glock have been matching the testing performances of BMW and Ferrari so far this winter and according to Trulli, the picture is accurate.
“We can be there with them,” he said. “We are always competitive, always at the top of the list. Our aim is to be in the top three or four at the start of the season and see what we can do from there. I’m more and more confident. Only Melbourne will tell us for sure but we are in pretty good shape.
“The car is consistent on long runs, we’ve done several and we have found the car consistent in every condition.
“When the car is quick nothing is tricky. So far this car has been quite competitive from the beginning. I think the aerodynamics guys got it right from the beginning. The front wing change has been useful. With slick tyres it’s fine but it’s a new experience for us and for Bridgestone and we need to find the right compounds because everyone was struggling in Jerez.
“Slicks can be an advantage for me because on grooved tyres I had some problems, especially with front graining, which I really didn’t like.”
Trulli is a formidable qualifier, as we know and he could well feature at the front of the grid in Melbourne. When the car is working well he’s raced very well too as his string of podiums three years ago showed. Since then it’s been a bit of a struggle, with certain tracks like Magny Cours and Budapest working well for the team, while it has traditionally struggled at bumpy circuits. Trulli thinks that this will still be the case, but in a milder form and thinks that the baseline of this car is just generally a lot higher than it has been before.
Watch out for Trulli in 2009!